We lay our scene in the fair Dahlia Academy, where two countries, both alike in dignity, come together; the "Black Doggies" of the Eastern Nation of Touwa and "White Cats" of the Principality of West have a longstanding feud. Romio Inuzuka and Juliet Persia, leaders of their respective dorms, seem to be bitter enemies. In reality, however, Romio and Juliet are hopelessly in love, but revealing their relationship would call upon the ire of all their comrades. They hide their love to maintain peace, but a clandestine relationship means they miss out on many of the activities couples get to do. As they grow closer together, Romio and Juliet must come to terms with the fact that keeping their relationship a secret may prove to be impossible. [Written by MAL Rewrite]
If you take a classic story like Romeo and Juliet and convert it into a modern romantic comedy, you’d get Kishuku Gakkou no Juliet. While neither series are alike to each other, they do borrow a few familiar themes with the most prominent being a forbidden romance. But there’s more to that, no?
Romance is practical in a show like this but it made me question first what the were really aiming for. I’m not familiar Yousuke Kaneda’s works but when it comes to a rom-com, they made the point crystal clear. Romio Inuzuka and Juliet Persia are in love. It’s the type of love that ties these two lovebirds like fate. However, it’s a forbidden love as Romio and Persia belong in opposite sides of society. In their school (Dahlia Academy Boarding School), there are two rivaling countries. They are known as the “Black Dogs” and the “White Cats”. As the respective leaders of their dorms, you can expect a whole load of drama coming their way.
At first, this show felt like an experimental story of trial and error. The first few episodes depicts Romio and Persia in a relationship although they must keep it a secret to avoid consequences. They face numerous obstacles with their secret often being risked in public. This creates consequences which misunderstandings arise. Throughout the series, people assume Romio has been harassing Persia. There’s countless times in the show where Romio has to defend his own pride while maintaining his poker face persona. On the other hand, Persia has trouble hiding her own secret but can’t help but stay in love with Romio. You get the big picture here? The show sets up this sort of dilemma that seems to signal for a tragic or doomed relationship. And that’s a good thing. It makes the show feel less predictable as viewers will anticipate how their relationship will ultimately end. Will their relationship be an everlasting love or is it fated to be a tragedy?
While all this drama exists from behind the scenes, another main selling point is the rivalries in the show. The Black Dogs and White Cats are often going head to head in competition. Their personalities and attire also contrasts with each other greatly. The anime depicts the Black Dogs as rowdy individuals that almost seems to allude their behaviors as animals fighting for their territory. On the other hand, the White Cats are dressed more cleanly and maintain an aristocratical attitude to maintain their presence. Like cats, they are also cunning and are not afraid to take risks. The series takes opportunities to showcase both sides’ strengths and weaknesses. Through competition, the Black Dogs and White Cats strives to win no matter what in their adamant rivalry.
While Romio and Persia is the main focus, I suppose the audience wonders why the key visual contains other female characters. Make no mistake. This isn’t a harem despite the deceptive image of several girls surrounding our main male protagonist. Characters like Char, Hasuki, and the Wang sisters adds doses of drama in their own ways. For instance, Char often teases characters in playful ways like a curoius cat. Romio becomes one of her key targets although most of this is played for laughs. Hasuki is more outgoing and friendlier with others and that’s thanks to Romio’s influence. As one of the very few characters who knows the truth of his relationship with Persia, she’s definitely a character that he can trust. Unfortunately, not every character in this show is too welcoming. The Wang sisters are an example of this as their role has little impact on the overall story. Their debut in the show is nothing more than showing their status at school as prefects and there’s minimal character development for either girl. Still, you may wonder if this show has emotional drama. In the second half of the series, Romio and Persia’s relationship is really tested as they encounter more complex problems such as Romio’s brother.
Watching a romantic comedy like this probably gets predictable if you’ve seen similar shows before. The repetitive formula of misunderstandings, emotional segments, and character chemistry is usually drawn through dealing with social issues. Now I’m not going to deny this show is a cliché teenage soap drama. However, the show seems to shine best when we see the importance of Romio and Persia’s character relationship. Between the humor and drama, it maintains a balanced story without jumping over itself. However, I do wish the show extended its plot more from the manga. The series is ongoing and with just 12 episodes, there are other characters that are omitted. The plot seems to be structured in a way that gives the overall story its flow but not truly adapted to my expectations.
As a show produced by Liden Films, it’s satisfying to see the faithfulness of the character designs. The contrasting attires of the Black Dogs and White Cats shows their status at school with their personalities. Romio and Persia are the two to keep an eye on the most for their character expressions. This is because they behave in both honest and deceptive ways depending on circumstances. Thanks to characters like Char, we also get tons of humorous moments thanks to her manipulative antics. The feminine voice of Persia is also expressed adequately to showcase her elegant personality. Even when she cross-dresses a boy, Persia still maintains an overall cool image in public; a contrast to her more fragile self when alone with Romio. There’s also some fan service in the show so do be prepared for some cliché pitfalls like accidental perverted moments with loose clothes. Yes, this romantic comedy has it all.
Kishuku Gakkou no Juliet is far from being a classic Shakespearean tale but manages to capture the magic of a romantic comedy. I’ve seen many rom-coms in the past and most falls for the same tropes over and over. This anime is vulnerable to some of those tropes but is also able to tell an convincing story with memorable moments. Don’t expect this to be a big hitter of the year but do be prepared for a gleeful rom-com amplified by the charms of a star-crossed couple.